OT - I don't _hate_ McMansions

Charles Curley charlescurley at charlescurley.com
Sat Jun 28 15:36:20 MDT 2008

On Sat, Jun 28, 2008 at 02:50:03PM -0600, Andy Bradford wrote:
> Thus said Levi Pearson on Fri, 27 Jun 2008 23:35:51 MDT:
> > > Then call them priviledges so we don't all get confused.
> >
> > How about you  learn to use the long-established legal  terms, eh? You
> > don't get to redefine the legal  vocabulary just because you feel like
> > stepping a few hundred years into the past.
> Fair enough.  The law is all  about certainty of definition.  Here it is
> straight from the  foremost authority on legal  definitions, Black's Law
> Dictionary:

Has it occured to either of you that you might both be right?

Some programming languages refer to "subroutines"; others to
"functions". Same thing, different words.

Go back to the XVIIIth Century, and philosophers such as Locke talked
about rights as the God-given or "natural" rights. See Blackstone's
discussion. They also referred to special legislation for the benefit
of one person or a class of people (e.g. the nobility). This was
"privilege", literally "private law" or "private legislation". Back
when divorce required an Act of Parliament, divorce was considered a

Similarly, the Framers were careful to refer to the "rights of the
people", e.g. to be secure in their persons and papers against
unreasonable search. The were careful to refer to governments as
having "powers", not rights.

Today the term "right" has been stretched to include the concept of
privilege, e.g. the "right" to a social security check. So we have
several classes of rights, and one should be careful to which class
one is referring.

* Natural rights, protected (not granted) by Bills of Rights, other
  legislation, and court decisions. Right to keep & bear arms. DC
  v. Heller

* Statutory rights. These are grants of privileges, such as the right
  to request documents from government officials. FOIA

* Regulatory rights. These are similar to statutory rights, but appear
  in government regulations.

As for why the language might have evolved so, I think George Orwell
has a few good points in his "Politics and the English Language",


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